A few months ago Tamar has hit by a truck. Her hip was dislocated and it took the sweet and gifted folks at Saint Buddy's Hospital for Well-Beloved Animals two separate surgeries to get her pieced back together. Since then, she has been on restriction. She is not allowed to roam free and takes walks only while clipped to a long, but still confining leash. She spends the majority of her days lounging on the deck.
This, I would like to make clear, was not my idea. Mama, who in a rather imperial, but nonetheless understandable way has assumed full custody of Tamar, decided that she could not bear to consider the possibility of her getting hit again and Tamar has become more or less a house dog.
The other afternoon, however, Mama, Daddy and I were standing outside chatting when a truck drove by and there was Tamar tearing across the front yard in pursuit. Daddy yelled for her to stop, but to no avail. Paradoxically fortunately, her injury and subsequent surgeries have left Tamar with a slight limp and her speed has been reduced significantly. The truck was past her long before there was any chance of a physical encounter.
She turned back toward us and obediently trotted back to the steps of the deck where she waited to be reincarcerated.
It didn’t take long to discover that she’d managed to push open one of the gates that had not been completely locked and had, thus, made her escape.
Mama, all aflutter, reprimanded the still panting dog while Daddy shook his head and mumbled, "Getting hit didn’t make a bit of difference to that dog. She’s still gonna chase a truck if she gets a chance." And he is right. She will. It is who she is.
We’ll never know, I suppose, why Tamar feels this untamable compulsion to throw herself into the path of large and noisy objects. Maybe she is being protective and thinks she is chasing away evil. Maybe she is competitive and thinks she has been invited to test herself. Maybe she just likes the way it feels when her heart is beating fast and her legs are pumping.
We’ll never know and it doesn’t really matter. Tamar is a dog who loves to chase trucks and it is one of the characteristics, along with her insatiable need to lick and her staccato bark, that make her Tamar.
Just another example of the similarities among animals, including the ones of us who have proportionally large brains and reasoning skills. No one of us can ever really know why anyone else is the way she is. We deceive ourselves when we assert otherwise and we disparage our relationships when we insist on trying.
"It is a fool playing God who pretends to understand everything that passes in another’s heart," I read somewhere a long time ago and I’ve had to remind myself of that truth often as I have navigated the unpredictable and often uncharted waters of life.
Wanting to understand, pretending I do – it is such a waste of time. Better I should invest my minutes and hours and days in appreciating the uniqueness of each soul who, momentarily or permanently, imprints my heart.
One more thing about Tamar: She was completely nonplused by the effect that her brief breakout had on her humans. She just walked back over to her favorite spot, sat down, looked up and – I promise you – smiled.